PERCHED on the top level of Yagan Square is Shy John.
The CBD restaurant/brewery opened about a year ago and serves classic Cantonese fare and makes its own beer off-site.
Shy John is named after John Pong Shying – reputed to be Australia’s first Chinese settler in 1818.
There’s a plethora of cantonese joints in Perth, and Shy John is one of the better ones, but the chef needs to reconsider the duck spring rolls ($10).
They’re baked, not fried, which makes them rubbery and chewy instead of crispy and crunchy.
There’s barely any duck filling and the flavour is almost non-existent.
They’re so flat and tasteless you’d think they were scraped off the road after being run over by a steamroller. Avoid them.
The duck san choy bao ($16) gave us hope for the rest of our meal.
The crisp lettuce cups, packed with cubed duck meat and chopped vegetables, are well seasoned with soy and oyster sauces.
Kylie’s spicy seafood soup starter ($10) was big enough to be a meal in its own right.
It’s served in a peculiar looking bowl that’s wide-brimmed and deep.
If you turned it upside down it wouldn’t look out of place in Diane Keaton’s hat collection.
Every spoonful had a medley of mixed seafood including crab, fish, squid and prawns; all swimming in a rich tomato sauce.
I’m so glad the waitress recommended the beef curry ($32) for our main.
The braised angus beef chunks were slow cooked for almost two days, and are so tender they literally melt in your mouth.
The faultless curry is served with a generous stack of roti that are perfect for mopping up the creamy coconut sauce.
This dish packs some serious heat, so those with a low tolerance to chilli should exercise caution.
There’s a lot going on in Shy John’s menu including a heap of rice and noodle dishes like fried squid ink noodles with roast pork ($16.50) and salted fish and chicken fried rice ($20).
I’d recommend everything from the crispy roast pork belly ($22) to the steamed szechuan-style barramundi ($24).
Just avoid those spring rolls.
by MATTHEW EELES
Shy John Brewery
& Yum Cha
Yagan Square, Perth